Crack Down: BOEM issues new rules regarding offshore 'conflicts of interest'

By Phaedra Friend Troy

In an internal memo from Director Michael Bromwich, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) federal regulatory employees have been issued stricter rules regarding relationships with offshore oil and gas producers, rig contractors and oil services companies.

In an attempt to dismiss any hint of impropriety in the federal regulation and inspection of offshore oil and gas facilities and developments, the Obama administration has set out a new set of “conflicts of interest” rules requiring BOEM employees to recuse themselves from responsibilities, as well as report relationships to their supervisors.

Obtained by PennEnergy, the internal memo targets all BOEM employees with offshore responsibilities stressing their jobs must be performed “without any coercion or improper influence from any industry personnel.”

The directive requires employees report any instances of perceived pressure, harassment or bribe in relation to issuing Incidents of Noncompliance (IONs).

Additionally, offshore regulators are being asked to recuse themselves from inspections and duties involving operators, drilling contractors and oilfield service vendors that employ family members or close friends.

Family and friends are defined as members of a BOEM employee’s household or someone who the federal employee “maintains a personal connection and regular social contact.”

Furthermore, BOEM employees are not allowed to work with former employers. If the BOEM employee has worked for the operator or contractor within the last two years, he or she must recuse him- or herself.

All conflicts of interest must be reported to supervisors, and employment history for regulators was also requested in the internal document.

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